Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Miró and tapas….

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Before getting to enjoy the balcony with double pillars in the front of the Palau de la Musica Catalana, we were treated with a small exhibit of the work of Joan Miró.

From the website describing the show…

The interview Miró granted to Georges Charbonnier in 1951 gives us a few key clues to understanding the essence of his work. To the question of whether the artist “has to put down roots”, Miró replied, “The roots of the land. The roots of the earth. Without in any way taking the earth to mean the motherland. I am talking about the earth that makes trees, a flower, a vegetable grow.” This point of view meant he attached great importance to popular art: “A plate made by peasants, a pot to eat soup from, are for me as wonderful as a piece of classical Japanese porcelain displayed in a case in a museum.” And from a taste for objects to sculpture is only a small step: the artist is driven to sculpt “for the direct contact with the earth, with stones, with a tree. When I stay in the countryside, I never think about painting. On the contrary, sculpture is what interests me.”

The pieces on display in this room, from the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, are these words made solid; both the photographs by Joaquim Gomis, taken in the studio on the Passatge del Crèdit in Barcelona and at the Mas Miró in Mont-roig, and the sculptures by the artist himself. The former because they are visual testimony to Miró’s love for the elements of nature and for everyday objects, and also to his first pottery and sculptures, created from 1944-1946 onwards. And the latter, the sculptures, because a decade later Miró started out once again from objets trouvés to construct, by casting them in bronze, what are in fact assemblages of the objects he gathered and collected with such passion.

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Then our group was led out onto the balcony and, when I looked over the side, I could spot the restaurant where we had eaten lunch. They have a very good deal and excellent food…so, here come my pictures of food!

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Tosca seems to serve just about all day long, but for lunch they have a fixed priced meal where you get to choose three choices from their tapas menu and since there were two of us that meant six tapas to share, plus drinks.

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Calimari

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Patatas Bravas

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Salad

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Empanadas

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Pork

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Seafood Risotto

Really, I am only going to make one post about food…but since the topic is Miró, it brings me to my memory of strolling down La Ramble to one of the Barcelona markets (there are markets all over the city, but this was our destination walk to possibly the most famous). Just outside of the market in the middle of the walk way  is a large mosaic in the street done by Miró.

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(Plus, there was this really cool building that contained remnants of when it was built. Originally, it was a store to buy umbrellas and it still contains umbrellas and a dragon on its facade…mosaic, of course). A pause in our stroll for the umbrellas:

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The entrance to the Mercat de la Boqueria:

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Yes, there was quite a hustle and bustle and we were even there early. We made our way toward the back (Rick Steves says the food stalls at the back are less expensive than the ones near the entrance.) We found two stools so we could slide up to the bar and started to order. Lots of chaos around us, good service, and lots of fun.

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The menu above where they are preparing the food.

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Our waiter

Albondingas

Albondingas

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Croquettas

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Another day, another order of calamari, this time with a caprese salad

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I loved the food in Spain, but being at home I am having a difficult time going back to no starches. While in Spain the starches were balanced by all the walking so there was no discernible damage. Unfortunately, at home it doesn’t quite work that way…Miró and tapas are not really connected, but if you are in Spain it is hard not to experience both repeatedly.


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A confection…2…

Stepping out onto the balcony of the Palau de la Musica Catalana with its double rows of pillars covered in mosaic was like stepping into fantasy-land. I think that if Salvador Dali and Walt Disney collaborated on a surrealist sci-fi movie with a setting in a birthday cake this would be where they filmed it, n’est-ce pas?

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The details, it is all in the details…(if you double click on these pictures they will get bigger so you can see the details!)

As coincidence would have it, if you live near San Francisco, the Walt Disney Family Museum has an exhibit until January called Disney and Dali. They did collaborate! They made a short movie together and had plans for other projects.

 

 


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Riding the rails, part two…

If you know me at all, you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for printmaking. After seeing the room with California faience tiles at the Crocker Museum of art, we walked to the gallery room next door and there was another wonderland! Multicolored block prints by an Arts and Crafts master.

William S. Rice came to California in the early 1900″s, originally to Stockton and then to Alameda and Oakland. He was a public school art teacher and art administrator for their school systems. He wrote two books, including Block Prints: How to Make Them and traveled through California making art before population influx had changed it. If you ever look at old Sunset Magazines, you might see his work on its covers.

From the Crocker Museum website:

Rice was a prolific painter of the California landscape but is today better known as a printmaker, one who authored two books on the process and executed every print himself. He applied the classic Japanese art of ukiyo-e (woodblock printing, or “pictures of the floating world”) to images of the West, where he moved in 1900. This exhibition brings to light many of the artist’s accomplishments, including several never-before-exhibited pieces capturing the California landscape before development.

The exhibit had many of his water colors but I was entranced by his block prints.

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In particular I enjoyed the demonstration of the multi-block nature of his printmaking work.

Lonerock-Santa Cruz

Lone Rock-Santa Cruz, c. 1935

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Progressive layers of the block printing process for Lone Rock-Santa Cruz

This demonstration of how he went from pencil sketch, to etching, to block print was masterful!

Leona Live Oaks pencil live study etching block print

Leona Live Oaks
pencil live study
etching
block print

The block prints themselves swept me away. (My apologies for the reflections on the surfaces, very hard to get away from that when there is excellent museum lighting on glass framed works.)

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The Lumberdock-San Francisco Bay c. 1917

The Lumberdock-San Francisco Bay
c. 1917

Pt. Lobos Cypress c.1925

Pt. Lobos Cypress
c.1925

Moonlight-Eucalypti c. 1920

Moonlight-Eucalypti
c. 1920

Carmel Pines c. 1920

Carmel Pines
c. 1920

Hollyhock Garden c.1925

Hollyhock Garden
c.1925

Blue Gums-Berkeley c. 1917

Blue Gums-Berkeley
c. 1917

Clear Lake c.

Clear Lake
c. 1920

Nuthatches and Iris c.1930

Nuthatches and Iris
c.1930

Source of the Glacier c. 1920

Source of the Glacier
c. 1920

Sierra Sunrise c. 1925

Sierra Sunrise
c. 1925

Mot-Mot Bird n.d.

Mot-Mot Bird
n.d.

Sleepyhead c.1930

Sleepyhead
c.1930

Parrot and Butterfly c. 1925

Parrot and Butterfly
c. 1925

Magnolia Grandiflora c. 1930

Magnolia Grandiflora
c. 1930

White Calla c.1925

White Calla
c.1925

Dessert Butter c. 1930

Dessert Butter
c. 1930

Mt. Diablo 1929

Mt. Diablo
1929

Dancing Pine c. 1925

Dancing Pine
c. 1925

Guardian of the Timberline c.1924

Guardian of the Timberline
c.1924

Ancient Oak-Mt. Hamilton c. 1918

Ancient Oak-Mt. Hamilton
c. 1918

 

 


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Riding the rails…

Recently, a group of women I drink coffee with each week decided to catch a train to Sacramento for a day trip visiting the Crocker Art Museum. Some of the group have been my friends since our kids were in early elementary school together and some are new friends, just since I retired and could actually partake in a weekly coffee klatch in the morning. What a luxury that is! One of the group moved to Sacramento and the rest of us decided to meet her for a tour of the Museum and lunch. So “the women who coffee” caught the train in Martinez. It is called the Capital Corridor and, for seniors, only costs $19.00 for a round trip. Takes an hour and is the best deal in town. Also, Toulouse-Lautrec was playing at the Crocker. Eleven of us hopped the train and enjoyed the rolling view.

Martinez Train Station

Martinez Train Station

Train View as we rolled along

California Train View, as we rolled along

Our tour guide met us at the station holding up a large sign so we would not miss her (just like the best of tour guides!)

Michelle Leong (Peet's is where we usually drink coffee)

Michelle Leong (Peet’s is where we usually drink coffee)

Then she led us down to the museum (only about a mile’s walk from the station…)

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The Museum is a combination of old and new…the original building donated by the Crocker’s and a new portion that expands the exhibit space, holds the restaurant and museum store, and has classrooms.

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The Toulouse exhibit did not allow photos but I visited with some of my old friends…

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Jade Beads Guy Rose c. 1907-1912

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Sacramento River Gregory Kondos 1981, oil on canvas

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Wayne Thiebaud

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Early California Artifact

Then we discovered two small gallery rooms that were fabulous. In the first, there was a display of the tile-makers art. In particular, early California faience art tiles and some Julia Morgan designed pressed tiles for the Hearst Castle bell tower. Heaven!

From the museum website:

William Bragdon was a ceramic engineer trained at Alfred University in New York. He moved to Berkeley in 1915 to teach at the California School of Arts and Crafts and shortly thereafter formed a partnership with his Alfred University classmate Chauncey Thomas, then running a Berkeley pottery studio. Together they created decorative tiles, vases, and sculpture, calling their wares California Faience. The most prestigious of the company’s projects came in the 1920s when architect Julia Morgan commissioned a complete environment of tiles for William Randolph Hearst’s palatial home and grounds in San Simeon.

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Showroom Display 1914-25 California Faience

Showroom Display
1914-25
California Faience

Display Panel 1922-23 Earthenware press molded

Display Panel
1922-23
Earthenware press molded

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Hearst Castle Bell Tower Julia Morgan design

Hearst Castle Bell Tower
Julia Morgan design

The Green Man

The Green Man

Julia Morgan's elevation drawing

Julia Morgan’s elevation drawing

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Snowflake and Daisy California Faience by Julia Morgan Winged Seahorse by Julia Morgan Spanish Tile 16th century

Snowflake and Daisy California Faience by Julia Morgan
Winged Seahorse by Julia Morgan
Spanish Tile 16th century

This exhibit will be there until May 17…the Crocker Museum website is here

My next post will be about the gallery in the next room and BLOCKPRINTS!


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Julia Morgan in the garden…

A few weeks ago, after reading this article in the SF Chronicle, we knew it was time to visit the UC Botanical Garden. Julia Morgan had designed a building on the campus that was a women’s social club in the beginning but then had other uses over the years. It needed to be moved out-of-the-way of construction projects. It had been cut in four pieces and trucked up the winding, narrow road to the garden. Eventually the structure will function as a wedding venue in the garden.

The bonus on our trip to see the Julia Morgan architecture was that at the time it held an art show of botanical art  displayed in the setting. (The only negative, which wasn’t really a negative, was that Julia Morgan had a way with light and it infused the spot. The day was very sunny and all the art was behind glass. I cropped my pictures  very close so that I could eliminate as many reflections as possible but I was not totally successful.) The interior is sheathed in redwood with a massive brick fireplace.

The new setting and the buildings’ details:

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I overheard a docent say that when the building had been jacked-up for the move, this fire-place screen, designed by Julia Morgan, had been found under the building. So it was restored for further use…

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The art:

Forest Floor Watercolor Betsy Rogers-Knox

Forest Floor
Watercolor
Betsy Rogers-Knox

American Mountain Ash Watercolor Sharron O'Neil

American Mountain Ash
Watercolor
Sharron O’Neil

Beautyberry Graphite on paper Maryann Roper

Beautyberry
Graphite on paper
Maryann Roper

Foxglove Colored pencil Rhonda Nass

Foxglove
Colored pencil
Rhonda Nass

Sassafras and Spicebush Swallowtail Watercolor Wendy Cortesi

Sassafras and Spicebush Swallowtail
Watercolor
Wendy Cortesi

Detail

Detail

Heuchera Watercolor Martha McClaren

Heuchera
Watercolor
Martha McClaren

Coneflower Watercolor, colored pencil Wendy Hollender

Coneflower
Watercolor, colored pencil
Wendy Hollender

Franklinia Capsules Watercolor Dick Rauh

Franklinia Capsules
Watercolor
Dick Rauh

Eastern Redbud Branch Oil on paper Ingrid Finnan

Eastern Redbud Branch
Oil on paper
Ingrid Finnan

Shooting Star Copper Etching Bobbi Angell

Shooting Star
Copper Etching
Bobbi Angell

Rat's Tail Watercolor Sally Petru

Rat’s Tail
Watercolor
Sally Petru

And this was by my friend:

Paddle Plant Watercolor Linda Kam

Paddle Plant
Watercolor
Linda Kam

Such excellent artists, beautiful plants, and a nice variety of techniques. We also walked the California Natives section and were treated to a Silk Tassel and a poppy…

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Looking back, looking forward…

Even though my middle name was chaos these last few weeks, I was able to make an iMovie compilation of my year in pictures. When I got it together, I was struck by how many birds there were because of all our field trips. It turned out I even forgot to take pictures of my classmates at my high school reunion…just got the peacock strolling the grounds. I am glad I took the time to do this movie because, except for a sad thing near the end, it was a very good year. Although I am a little belated, Happy New Year to you and may your 2015 be stellar!!

Don’t forget you can watch the movie full-screen by clicking the small box on the lower right hand corner…


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Prisoner Ai Weiwei…

The art that drew us to Alcatraz…an exhibition of the work of the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.IMG_7860

From the catalog: “At first blush, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, a major exhibition that pairs a politically charged Chinese contemporary artist with a landmark American national park, seems just as incongruous. Ai, a superstar in the international art world who helped design the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is currently forbidden by the authorities to leave China. Alcatraz—over the years the site of a Civil War-era fortress, a military prison, a notorious federal penitentiary, and a momentous Native American rights protest—is now a popular national park site and refuge for waterbirds. But it is exactly the pairing’s intrinsic conditions of contradiction that bring the two parts together-and make for the possibility of soul-stirring art.”

After arriving at the dock, we walked up to the New Industries Building which was originally a laundry and manufacturing facility.

“Both delicate and fearsome, the traditional Chinese dragon kite embodies a mythical symbol of power. Ai Weiwei unfurls a spectacular contemporary version of this age-old art form inside the New Industries Building: a sculptural installation with an enormous dragon’s head and a body made up of smaller kites. The sparrow-shaped and hexagonal kites scattered throughout the room feature stylized renderings of birds and flowers—natural forms that allude to a stark human reality: many are symbols of nations with serious records of restricting their citizens’ rights and civil liberties. The work references some thirty countries, including Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

…By confining the work inside a building once used for prison labor, the artist suggests powerful contradictions between freedom and restriction, creativity and repression, cultural pride and national shame. He also offers a poetic response to the multi-layered nature of Alcatraz as a former penitentiary that is now an important bird habitat and a site of thriving gardens.”

With Wind (Installation, 2014. Handmade kites made of paper, silk, and bamboo)

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Somebody I know was looking for birds out those windows and admiring the view to the Golden Gate…

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In the next large room:

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Trace (Installation, 2014. LEGO plastic building blocks)

“The viewer is confronted with a field of colorful images laid out flat across the expansive floor: portraits of over 170 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled due to their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated as of June 2014.”

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“From the New Industries Building’s lower gun gallery, where armed guards once monitored prisoners at work, visitors peer through cracked and rusted windows to glimpse an enormous, multifaceted metal wing on the floor below. Its design is based on close observation of the structure of real bird’s wings, but in place of feathers, the artwork bristles with reflective metal panels originally used on Tibetan solar cookers…this piece uses imagery of flight to evoke the tension between freedom—be it physical, political, or creative—and confinement.

Refraction (Installation, 2014. Tibetan solar panels, steel)

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We walked through lush gardens up to the Cellhouse.

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Inside was Blossom (Installation, 2014, Porcelain, hospital fixtures)

Fixtures in hospital ward cells and medical offices are transformed into fantastical, fragile porcelain bouquets.

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There were other parts to the exhibit inside but it was time for use to go look for birds in earnest…

Now I have run out of episodes with titles I can use the word “prisoner” in, so now I must bring this chapter to a close…